Timeline of communication devices in Singapore / Malaysia


Last Updated on 2016-05-30 , 9:36 am

Long, long ago, calling your loved one meant picking up the phone and pressing buttons on a numeric keypad. You have to sit next to the phone and every minute you spent with your loved one on the phone cost money. Now, you can lie on your bed and look at your loved one through a video chat—for free. It’s amazing how technology has changed how we communicate, eh?

If you’re just like me who has been through every single change, this timeline of how we used to communicate will be so creepily familiar that you wonder how we used to survive long ago!

Step 1: Telephone
Born in the 1990s and have got no idea how a telephone looks like? Too bad! Basically, you memorize phone numbers instead of saving them in your phone. Now, if you forget your girlfriend’s number, don’t worry that she will give you hell, because I’m quite certain she doesn’t remember yours as well.
But in the 1990s, if you forgot her number, God bless you.
And before I forget, read this to jog the good old memories:
“Hello, erm, can I speak to Joyce”?
“I’m her father. Who are you?”
*hangs up immediately*

Step 2: Pager
Using telephone has its cons: you can only contact someone when they’re at home. Then the revolutionary pager came. It’s compact, effective and stylish. When someone pages you, you see a number there. You call back with the same, template-like reply: “Hello, who page?” (or in Singapore style: “Hello, xiang car pager?”)

Step 3: Motorola Waterbottle phone
Not everyone has this, but it was popular and used by the rich towkays. It showed the world that communication without wires is possible, and that Star Trek is not merely a science fiction but a science fact.

Step 4: Email
Guess what? Communication became FREE! We can simply send an email to a friend without spending a cent. Before that, even paging someone needed some money. Email was revolutionary when it became mainstream and for a while, everyone was sending chain emails. Interestingly, because we had nothing to do, we read all chain emails—and even sent them.


Step 5: Colourless Nokia
Then, handphones become mainstream. For a few hundred dollars and a monthly payment, we get to have the latest, and coolest, gadget ever: Nokia 3310.
And because we had the option to send SMS instead of talking, we became SMS addicts and forgot how to talk. Remember days when saying “I sent over 1,000 SMSes this month” was cool? It meant you had friends.

Step 6: Colour Nokia
The first “polyphonic” phone came. Our ringtones were no longer the same. Snake was upgraded to Snake 2. Then…colour came. Everyone was excited. I was never in the era when TV gained colour, but I saw first-hand on how colour found its way into a phone. It was almost…unreal.
But now? We talk about the resolution instead of, what, colours?

Step 7: iPhone
Steve Jobs came and showed us a phone could not be just a phone. And phones became smart, and we became stupid. From then on, Android took the market share like a lion in a typical Google style, Samsung became well-known for phones instead of fridges and people became millionaire developing apps—something that no one used ten years ago.
And then, RIP to many electronic devices, for all you need is a phone now.
Also, we forgot how to talk.

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